Ten things I hate in construction

Ten things I hate in construction

Writer and construction management consultant with 30 years’ experience, Paul Netscher, shares his dislikes in the construction industry.

1. Non-payment

Clients that don’t pay for completed work, or regularly pay their contractors late. When contractors have delivered construction work of the right quality, and on time they deserve to be paid. Not paying a contractor on time can have severe repercussions for the contractor, possibly even resulting in them becoming bankrupt. Inevitably there is a knock-on effect and the contractor’s employees, suppliers and subcontractors may not be paid. One invoice not paid, or paid late, can impact the lives of many.

2. Clients that ignore variation claims from their contractors

Contractors can’t be expected to work for free! I had one client simply ignore our variation claims which eventually totalled the value of the original contract. This put severe strain on our cash flow and it would have sunk many other contractors. We tried everything in the book to be paid and only when we instituted legal action were most of our claims paid, although the contractor managed to avoid paying some of our claims on a technical issue. If there’s a change in the project scope, or if the contractor has been delayed for reasons beyond their control. Contractors deserve to be compensated – indeed they are entitled to be compensated in terms of the contract.

3. Clients that request a price quote without intending to use your services

Clients that request you price a project and then use your price to bargain with their favoured contractor who ultimately is awarded the project. Pricing a construction project takes time and costs contractors money. But even worse for the losing contractor is that they might think they have a chance at winning the project and don’t price other prospective projects, so could be left with no work for their teams.

4. Clients that ask contractors to price pie-in-the-sky construction projects

Pricing projects costs money. Why should contractors be used and abused to provide price estimates for grandiose and never-to-be-implemented plans?

5. Contractors that lodge excessive variation claims

Excessive and spurious claims waste everyone’s time and money. It costs integrity to submit false and inflated claims and it will negatively impact your reputation.

6. Clients that award a construction project to the contractor with the lowest price

Clients that select a contractor based only on price, when the contractor doesn’t have the resources or know how to complete the project. Unfortunately, many clients are only interested in the lowest price. Inevitably the contractor who submitted an unreasonably low price runs into difficulties on the project, possibly submitting numerous spurious variation claims to recoup their losses. The client is sometimes left with an unfinished project, or a project that’s completed late, or one that is of poor quality.

7. Contractors who price projects despite not have the right resources or knowledge

That’s irresponsible and possibly even dishonest. I’ve witnessed many contractors run into problems after winning a construction project which they didn’t have resources for. Inevitably they had to hire new personnel who weren’t suitably qualified and who didn’t fit in with the culture of the company. Contractors who don’t have the required knowledge will undoubtedly run into problems which will cost them and their client money.

8. Poor safety

Poor safety leads to injury, additional costs and even death. There is no excuse for poor safety. It is possible to work safely. Yet I frequently see construction projects which aren’t following good safety practices.

9. Contractors who let you down and contractors that don’t respond

Unfortunately, there are contractors that will let you down. They deliver work late and of a poor quality and then they don’t respond to complaints and requests to sort out their problems. They don’t reply to telephone calls or emails.

10. Poor quality work

There is no excuse for poor quality construction work, no matter how rushed the project or how low the price. Poor quality work tarnishes reputations and it can even cause injury and death.

Regrettably, like all industries, construction has its share of fraudsters and liars. But unfortunately, as often as there are unscrupulous contractors, there are also dishonest clients. Contractors need to be wary of the clients they work with and clients need to be more selective in their choice of contractors.

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